GDC publishes ARF consultation response
Regulator lays out its arguments for keeping the fee at 2015 level
The General Dental Council has published its full response to the latest consultation over the 2016 Annual Retention Fee (ARF).
On Monday, the regulator announced that the fee level would remain at £890, despite widespread opposition from the profession.
And yesterday (25 November), in its consultation response, the GDC revealed that 82 per cent of the 907 respondents disagreed with the fee level for dentists and 48 per cent disagreed with the ARF level for DCPs. Many respondents called for a return to the 2014 fee level.
We have listened to respondents very carefully and we recognise the profession’s concern to see the cost of regulation reduced
In its response to the consultation, the GDC laid out its position by saying: “We have listened to respondents very carefully and we recognise the profession’s concern to see the cost of regulation reduced. However, the council has concluded that the level of the ARF should remain unchanged for the time being to enable financial reserves to be returned to a position in line with similar organisations, after being substantially depleted by the significant increase in complaints between 2010 and 2014.
“In that respect, we do not agree with the BDA’s assessment of our reserves policy. Our policy reflects good practice and an aim to maintain appropriate financial soundness. It is in line with reserves policies of comparable organisations. We hold reserves to ensure that we can continue to operate even when substantial risks materialise – for example, if another surge in complaints occurs – without resorting to ultimately more costly forms of finance such as bank loans.
“Under such circumstances not only would we need to finance the cost of the borrowing, but the deficit would still need to be recovered through the ARF. Maintaining reserves at a prudent level is the most effective way of insulating the ARF from significant upward pressure caused by unforeseen circumstances.”
The regulator stated that it faced “significant risk in 2016” around the implementation of case examiners – due to come into effect in April 2016 – if the parliamentary timetable for the new powers is delayed for any reason.
The statement also defended the GDC’s decision to refurbish, at a cost of £9 million, its central London headquarters at Wimpole Street. It said that the lease on the premises was acquired in 1960 on “very cost effective terms”. The regulator argues that, with an annual rent of just £6,790, it saves £1.6m a year by remaining at the current HQ rather than relocating.
To read the consultation response in full, click here.